Category: Adventure


To quote a terrible Staind song, “It’s been a while.” Regular readers know that I’ve been working on a screenplay. I wrote the first draft in less than two weeks, and  a week later, my second draft was finished clocking in at about 128 pages. I’m letting some friends look at it to give me some feedback and then I’ll get to work on third and fourth drafts and so on. After that, who knows? Maybe I’ll actually try to sell this bad boy. I honestly think that with enough polish, it’s something that people would be interested in seeing. Let’s hope so. However, being so committed to my screenplay has led me to neglect some of my other duties for this blog (as I once predicted it would on here if I ever got around to writing again). I.e., I haven’t actually done a real review (other than my Song of the Day) series in over 10 days. Let’s fix that right now.

After the appropriately jaw-dropping cliffhanger at the end of The Walking Dead – Long Road Ahead as well as the emotional roller coaster that was its main plot, I couldn’t be more excited to dive into Episode 4, Around Every Corner. When I finally found the free time to take that plunge yesterday, I was not disappointed. After two straight episodes in a row where it seemed like the biggest threat to our beleaguered group of survivors was other humans and ultimately themselves, Around Every Corner puts zombies right back front and center as the group finally makes it to Savannah, and they quickly learn that it’s not going to be the safe-haven they expected.

For anyone who hasn’t played the other episodes in the story, stop reading now. Shit’s about to get spoilery. If you want an overview of the series, check out my review of episode 1, A New Day. After learning that a man on Clementine’s supposedly broken walkie-talkie was telling her that he knew where her parents were, the group arrives in Savannah searching for a boat and answers to the question of who this mysterious caller is. It doesn’t take long though for things to quickly turn south. Group members die, and even the new people you pick up aren’t safe from the Walkers. With forays into a creepy mansion, a Walker-infested sewer system, and a high school from Hell, Around Every Corner thrusts the players into  a series of classic horror settings, all while delivering the same group-drama centric storytelling you’ve come to expect from this fantastic franchise.

It was interesting. In Long Road Ahead, despite the fact that a cavalcade of terrible things happened one after another to our survivors (including the deaths of half the group and ME SHOOTING DUCK so Kenny wouldn’t have to), you really left the episode knowing a lot of new things about the people that made it through (or even those who you left behind *cough*Lily*cough). Everyone either grew or regressed in significant ways. If I have a complaint about Episode 4, it’s that I don’t feel that the characters make as much significant growth (Clementine being a massive exception). Christa and Omid, the pair you picked up at the end of Long Road Ahead, are still essentially unknowns as the episode progresses, and only a new character, Molly, makes any real emotional impact. However, Clementine finally comes into her own and retains her title as the video game character that I’ve easily become the most attached to over the years. If she doesn’t break your heart, I don’t know what will.

This episode does thankfully fix most of the gameplay complaints that I had about Long Road Ahead. The shooting seems tighter, and there was only one section where I died repeatedly because I felt like the game wasn’t responding well (and it wasn’t based on the shooting). The action in this series is never going to be top notch though. But unlike Episode 3, this one always felt playable. There weren’t any moments in this entry where the decisions felt as immediately difficult as say shooting Duck or whether to abandon Lily (I left that bitch behind for killing Carly). However, it was very satisfying by the end of the episode to see the pay-off of how I’ve treated every surviving member of the group and what they finally think of me when it matters most.

At the end of the day, Around Every Corner might not have packed the punch of Long Road Ahead (well, at least not until it’s tragic and shocking final minutes), but it sets up what should be a suitably epic conclusion to a series that will likely become the text-book on how to do licensed, episodic content well. The cliff-hanger that the episode ends on is so massive that the wait for the next episode will be “hiatus between seasons of Lost” painful. Whether you’ve been with the series just they released Episode 1 early in the year, or you’ve become a new convert, The Walking Dead: The Game is an investment you need to make.

Final Score: B+

Man. Just man. I probably just finished the most emotionally intense three hours of video gaming that I’ve ever done (or at least since the final act of Metal Gear Solid 4). For anyone who hasn’t played the first (A New Day) or the second (Starved for Help) episode of Telltale Games The Walking Dead video game series, you should stop reading now because there be spoilers ahead. If you want an overview of the series, check out the link back to Episode 1. I’m going to just assume at this point that you know what I’m talking about. Episode 3, Long Road Ahead, finds the game doubling down on its commitment to story. Although this episode includes more action-oriented elements than in the past, they don’t necessarily play as well. That’s okay though because Long Road Ahead doesn’t pull any punches in its depiction of this post-apocalyptic world and how fragile our group’s lives have become.

After the disastrous visit to the dairy farm from Hell, where (in my story) Kenny smashed Larry’s head in with a salt lick as I tried to help resuscitate him, things are looking to get even worse back at the motel. Although I chose to take the supplies from the car at the end of Starved for Help, it turns out that one of the survivors in the group had been giving supplies to the bandits. As Lily starts to lose control of the group (and her senses after the death of her father), Lee finds himself forced to investigate where the supplies are going and then things go to Hell. I don’t really want to give away any more of the plot of the episode other than to say, nothing will ever remotely be the same.

If I thought that the storytelling in Starved for Help really increased the dramatic nature of The Walking Dead game, I was not prepared for the emotional tour-de-force that was Long Road Ahead. It’s really easy in a movie like Dawn of the Dead or The Walking Dead TV series to criticize characters for not being able to make tough decisions (like shooting someone who’s been infected). There’s a moment early in the episode where Kenny and Lee are on a supply run in Macon when a stranger to the group gets swarmed by Walkers. There’s no way to save her and you can shoot her and put her out of her misery (but, by doing so, draw attention to yourself) or you can let her be the bait that keeps the Walkers off you. In what was maybe a moment of weakness, I chose the latter. By the end of the episode, you will make a decision that is infinitely more difficult (but also more inevitable).

It’s very rare that a video game can make me physically disgusted at myself for a decision I’ve made. Most games with decision systems have a black and white morality system where you can do evil things but they always empower you in the universe. Hell, it can be more fun to play as a bad guy in Fallout 3 than to be strictly good. The Walking Dead does not work that way, and it’s a significantly more fulfilling system for it. There’s a moment in Heavy Rain where Ethan Mars, one of the four protagonists, has to choose whether or not to fatally poison himself in order to save the life of his son. There are two moments in Long Road Ahead that are tougher. One was the single most difficult thing I’ve ever done in a game. I knew it had to be done and that somebody had to do it (and that it should be Lee), but actually pushing the button to make Lee follow through with that action was physically painful. The other moment was more morally grey but I’m still questioning whether I did the right thing.

The episode fell into some old trappings of the franchise though (and created some new ones in the process). The action kicks up a little bit but the controls are so spotty that they didn’t play as well as they should have. I was concerned that something I did caused one of the bad things in the episode later because I couldn’t handle the action well enough, but I was glad to see it was just inevitable. The lip syncing was way off during certain sections of the episode, and at one point, I encountered a game-breaking bug which forced me to reset the game in a key moment. They were small complaints in an episode of what I can honestly call one of the few video games that has ever made me cry. If you aren’t emotionally wrecked by the end of Long Road Ahead, you might be a sociopath.

Final Score: A-

 

The Walking Dead has its third season premiere tonight although I won’t be able to watch it until tomorrow since I’m pretty sure we don’t have AMC in my apartment (instead we just seem to have a million different versions of the same network tv channels on our cable service. maybe I’m doing something wrong). Anywho, long time readers will know that I was pretty tough on the show’s second season. To say that it had problems would be a massive understatement. About half of the episodes were brilliant and some of the best things on TV right now. The show would find the perfect mix between character-driven storytelling and good old-fashioned zombie action. And then the other half of the episodes would be terribly slow and not in a good way. The show wanted to be more intellectual than it had the actual talent to pull off and it drove me crazy. It found itself again by the final two episodes so I have hope for this new season. Plus, the prison arc in the comics is some of the best work in comics that I’ve ever read and if the show can follow it even remotely faithfully, it should create some brilliant TV.

To celebrate the return of the TV series, I finally decided to purchase The Walking Dead video game that was released by TellTale, one of my favorite video game companies because of their work on the newly revamped Tales from Monkey Island series of adventure games. The fourth episode was finally released (of the five planned for this initial season) last week, and since the Playstation Network has a deal for the entire season at $20, I decided to go ahead and buy it. As a fan of games like Heavy Rain which put a high, high focus on narrative, a chance to play a game in a similar vein was something that I would eventually have to succumb to. The only reason I waited so long to get it in the first place was complaints people had that the games were little more than interactive cut scenes. That may be slightly true, but the emotional impact that this game was able to achieve after just one episode (roughly 3 hours of play) more than makes up for any weaknesses it had in gameplay.

For those unfamiliar with the video game offshoot (or possibly even the comics/TV series), some introductions are in order. The Walking Dead takes place during a zombie apocalypse. The comics/show begin a month or so after the outbreak as Rick Grimes awakens from a coma and then follows his attempts to find his wife and son and to eke out some type of existence in a world gone to hell with his fellow survivors (who can be more dangerous than the zombies/walkers themselves). The Walking Dead: A New Day takes place within the established universe of the comics but instead follows a different survivor (though you see some familiar faces like Glenn and Hershel). You play as Lee Everett, a convicted criminal being hauled out of Atlanta by a police officer when your car crashes and you find yourself thrust into the first days of the zombie outbreak.

Although Lee is a self-admitted criminal, he is a good man at heart and early in the game you find a young girl named Clementine whose parents were in Savannah when the outbreak started. Clementine has been hiding in her treehouse for days as she waits for her parents to return, and after a Walker nearly kills Lee as he’s searching her house for help, she intervenes and Lee takes it upon himself to look after Clementine for as long as he has to. It’s not long before you meet up with other survivors just trying to not become zombie food, and it would be a disservice to the excellent pacing and plotting of the game for me to go into any more detail about what happens.

I’ve never played a game that plays quite like The Walking Dead: A New Day. The closest parallel would be Heavy Rain,  but that similarly narrative heavy game has more game elements than The Walking Dead. Perhaps, it’s easier to compare it to old school point and click adventure games like Monkey Island. However, whereas those games had brain-busting puzzles and often frustrating inventory management, The Walking Dead instead forces the player to make very, very difficult choices. Although you do have the opportunity to solve light puzzles (like how to quietly clear a parking lot full of Walkers to save a woman) and there is some combat, the combat itself is very light quick-time events and just generally having the wherewithal to find the weapons around you in case a Walker catches you barehanded. The game is not difficult (and that’s not necessarily a bad thing).

Instead, the “difficulty” of the game comes from the decisions you have to make. When you converse with your fellow survivors, you generally have three or four options and a limited amount of time to make a decision. Virtually every decision you make will have a consequence down the line, and similar to the Mass Effect franchise, you will ultimately have to bear the fruit of your decisions. If you side with one survivor in a dispute, you may gain his loyalty but the suspicion and hostility of the man you didn’t back. If you lie and are caught in it later, the other people in your party will trust you less. Those aren’t even the big, key moments in the story though. On two separate occasions during the first episode alone, I had to choose between the lives of two different survivors (although the first time, you don’t realize that’s what you’re doing). The cast itself will change based on the decisions you make, and throw in quieter (but no less potent) moments such as deciding whether to help a woman who’s been bitten commit suicide or not, and you have one of the most emotionally heavy games I’ve ever played.

The screenshots I’ve included in this review should clue you in that The Walking Dead is a very visually unique game. True to its comic book roots, The Walking Dead utilizes cel-shaded technology ala Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker or Viewtiful Joe, and it looks great doing so. Fans of the comics know that they were in black and white, but it was a good decision to add some color to the universe for these games. It might not have the best animations around (by that, I mean the way the characters move), but faces are extremely expressive in a way that more “realistic” looking games can’t achieve, and the dark, oversaturated colors match the tone of the post-apocalyptic story. The game also isn’t afraid to shy away from disturbing portrayals of blood and gore either, and pretty much everything about the game’s visual style adds to the immersiveness of the experience.

The voice acting isn’t always that great although the person voicing Lee (Dave Fennoy) does an excellent job as does the person voicing Clementine (Melissa Hutchinson). Some people are going to be turned off by the very simple nature of the game play. People who can’t stand the level of non-interactiveness in Metal Gear Solid will be even more frustrated by a game which is much more story than actual game play. Once I figured out how the game actually worked, there was never a moment when the game play itself felt challenging and most of the puzzles were very simplistic. However, not even Mass Effect has made me second guess my own decision making as much as I can already tell The Walking Dead will. For people who are willing to take risks on games that think outside of the box, The Walking Dead delivers.

Final Score: B+

(Quick aside before real review. It has been a long damn time since I’ve done a video game review. The last game I reviewed was (unless you count my failed attempted Review in Progress for Persona 4) back in October of last year and it was El Shaddai: Ascension of the Metatron. Considering how anally I reviewed every bit of pop culture I consumed up until about two months ago when I finally pulled the cord on TV, this means I haven’t beaten a game since then. That’s sad. However, it’s par for the course for me because I have a bad history of not beating video games that I start. Especially RPGs [which are weirdly my favorite genre despite me rarely beating them)] because I just don’t have the attention span to stick with a game for 40-80 hours. I started this particularly playthrough of Mass Effect 2 on August 6th, and I put about 40 hours into the game. I’d beaten it before on the PC [more on that later and why this is strictly a review of the PS3 port] so I’m really surprised I actually stuck with it. Hopefully this is a sign of me actually maturing and being able to finish things I start. One can dream.)

I can remember in the old days of Game Informer that they used to post a separate review for each console’s version of a game. There were such vast differences between the PS2, XBox, and Gamecube that it was mandatory because the games simply weren’t going to be the same (and multi-console releases weren’t the overwhelming rule of the day at the time). They’ve stopped doing that and generally only include a minor aside saying whether one version of a game suffers in the porting. I bring this up first and foremost in my review of Bioware’s science fiction opus, Mass Effect 2, because having played the game both on the PC and the PS3, I can easily say that the PS3 version of the game is one of the worst port jobs that I’ve ever seen in my entire life to the point that it nearly ruined one of the greatest RPGs of this generation of gaming from the undisputed masters of the Western RPG.

For those unfamiliar with the franchise (or who were PS3 owners that didn’t have access to the first game when it was released only on the XBox 360 and PC), the Mass Effect universe is an intricately crafted and indescribably ambitious effort by Bioware to create an epic science fiction saga in the vein of Star Wars or the new Battlestar Galactica. Implementing player decisions over the course of three video games (the third was released this spring and was the impetus for me to go back and beat the second game on the PS3 since that was the system I bought the third game on for complicated reasons), Mass Effect is an experiment in maintaining player choice at a grand and meaningful scale over multiple titles, and it’s a huge success. Only one other game (Heavy Rain) has ever made me weigh all of my choices with so much painful attention or punch me in the gut so strongly with real consequences for the things I’ve done.

This game is like two and a half years old now so I’m not sure if it’s a huge spoiler to delve into some initial plot points. After stopping rogue Spectre Saren Arterius from destroying the seat of galactic government and his army of evil A.I. known as the Geth, Commander Shephard is “killed” when a ship from a race known as the Collectors destroys his vessel, the Normandy. Commander Shephard is brought back to life by the pro-human splinter group known as Cerberus and tasked by its leader, the Illusive Man (Martin fucking Sheen), with discovering the nature of the Collector threat to humanity as well as come up with proof that a race of sentient machines known as the Reapers are on their way to wipe out all of galactic civilization. The game is the second in a trilogy and focuses on your attempts to build a team to stop the combined Collector/Reaper threat.

If you can’t tell from the assorted screenshots gathered here, Mass Effect 2 is a gorgeous game. Although facial animations (even in gorgeous games like Final Fantasy XIII or Heavy Rain) will always be ruined for me now because of the phenomenal work in L.A. Noire, this game’s use of lighting and color is — dare I say it — cinematic in scope. The humans are impressive if not the most realistic in gaming (I’m now playing Uncharted 3 as a break between this and Mass Effect 3 and it’s really setting a bar for overall graphical fidelity) but boy do the alien species look amazing. Whether it’s the salamandar-esque Salarians, the more humanoid but just as amphibuous Drell, or the impossible to describe in animal terms Turiand and Krogan, all of the alien species pass the uncanny valley tests that the human characters sadly fail.

I also hope that the broad plot description above didn’t sound too dull or cliche. The Mass Effect franchise is famous for its mature and philosophical storytelling. Over the course of your nearly 40 hour adventure, you will be faced with choices where what is right and what is wrong is almost never clear. In the first game, you had to choose which one of two crew mates (one potentially being your lover) would have to die to save the galaxy. Here your decisions are just as tough. Do you kill a daughter because she refuses to live by the code set for her by her mother and Asari society (and also kills because she’s genetically coded to)? Do you convince a scientist that his role in sterilizing a species was wrong even though his actions clearly saved trillions of lives? Do you effectively brainwash and pacify a sentient machine race or destroy them? You face decisions like that the entire game.

There were many cries of “Foul!” when Mass Effect 2 was initially released because it toned down many of the RPG elements of the first game to instead make the sequel a choice-driven third person shooter with RPG elements. It was the right call. Combat in the game is smooth and satisfying, and you never feel like you lost a fight because of a poor roll of the dice (which was far too common in the original). The guns handle smoothly and with a healthy selection of powers, you have plenty of ways to attack a situation (though you may come to rely on a few key abilities). Your allies’ A.I. is competent (if not amazing) and the enemy does its best to flank and outmaneuver you although patience is as much the key to victory as twitch shooting ability. Getting rid of the horrid inventory system and the clunky shooting did not harm Mass Effect 2 in the slightest.

Not every aspect of the game (before I get into the porting issues) was perfect though. In order to get the best ending for the game (one where all of your teammates survive), you have to upgrade your ship. In order to purchase these upgrades, you have to farm materials through a boring and usually infuriating mini-game that continually slows down the momentum of the game. As wonderful as the individual stories are for the team members you acquire — which you deepen through loyalty missions and conversations between levels –, the actual main story is far more hit or miss. The Collectors and Reapers pose a grand existential threat to the universe, but the blandness of fighting a race of evil aliens as opposed to a clearly defined bad guy (like Saren in the first game) robs some of the impact and directness that the original’s plot had.

The game simply has one of the greatest casts in the medium. I put it in the same league as Final Fantasy X (which I think wins the title hands down) as well as games such as Persona 4 and the Metal Gear Solid universe. One of my biggest problems with the first game was that the main story was phenomenal but far too many of your crew mates felt poorly fleshed out. In Mass Effect 2, you should leave the game feeling as if you know Mordin, Tali, Thane, Jack, Miranda, or anyone else in your party as well as some of your less close friends in real life. They’ll make you laugh. They might make you cry (poor, poor Tali), and sometimes they’ll make you do both at the same time. You don’t know funny until you’ve seen a Salarian doing a modified bit of Gilbert & Sullivan. It’s comedy gold. How close you become to your supporting players really adds to the drama that any of them can die (for real and be therefore dead in Mass Effect 3) by the time the game closes.

Now with the real issues. The PS3 port is just a hot mess. Mostly, it can be inconsequential stuff like audio. Sentences will seemingly clip off mid-sentence (and if you don’t have the subtitles on, you’re fucked as far as knowing how the sentence ends). There will be no background noise during important cut-scenes. People’s lip-syncing will be obviously off. These don’t disrupt the gameplay itself, but it reminds you that you’re playing a game and not actually embarking on a grand science fiction quest. Other issues are more problematic. The framerate will drop to absurdly low levels. Enemies and players will clip through the environment. Occasionally the game will bug and keep you from finishing a mission and you have to reload. The texture pop-in is really bad (which might have been an issue on the PC too. I don’t remember). All in all, I noticed a million technical bugs on the PS3 that I just never encountered when I first beat the game on the PC.

It’s been a long time since I’ve reviewed games and I think I’ve lost my knack for it. It took me probably a year before I began to really feel proud of my movie reviews and it’s been nearly that long since I’ve touched games. Obviously, I have some work to do to improve. Thankfully, I’m going to make sure I keep practicing. If you have the chance to play the game on the PC or 360, you definitely should. Not only can you actually play the first game (instead of the interactive comic book at the beginning of this one on the PS3 to make key choices), but the game simply plays better. I would give the PC version of this game a 9.75. It’s as close to perfect as you can get without actually getting there. However, the Ps3 version of the game has enough flaws to at least partially lower the score but not enough to dissuade you from playing this phenomenal game if you don’t have another system to play it on.

Final Score: A-

Ever since games introduced the concept of infinite continues and liberal/kind/generous checkpoint placement, it isn’t too often that outside of Ninja Gaiden or Contra that we hear complaints that video games are perhaps too difficult. When Demons’ Souls came out a couple of years ago, its high difficultly was considered a breath of fresh air in a medium that had spent the last decade coddling gamers with comfortable security and easy victories. However, we often forget that there was a reason that classic SNES or Genesis games had a difficulty for being overly difficult which is that they often relied on cheap and/or random elements that were often beyond the player’s control and placed his fate in chance. I just finished playing Atlus’s Catherine, a puzzle-platformer that on many levels I loved because of the emphasis it placed on mature and adult (by that I mean real-life situations like love and relationships not necessarily sex) themes and its beautiful art style, but I also often found myself inconsolably outraged at the game’s occasionally cheap and extraordinary difficult that significantly marred an otherwise wonderful product.

Catherine  is the story of Vincent Brooks and the (literally) dangerous quagmire that is his love life. Vincent is the prototypical slacker who glides along his comfortable existence at a dead-end job and in a relationship with his girlfriend Katherine that has no momentum. He spends his nights drinking with his best friends at his bar and not taking any active role in shaping his destiny. Suddenly, Vincent begins to have nightmares that involve talking sheep (who seem to think that he is the sheep) where a malevolent force is leading him up a seemingly infinite tower where he must solve brain-bending block-based puzzles in order to wake up, for if he dies in the dream, he will die in real life. As if fatal dreams weren’t enough, Vincent’s life becomes even more complicated when he inexplicably wakes up in bed one morning with a strange woman named Catherine who is the polar opposite of his frigid and nagging girlfriend, Katherine. Catherine is chaos embodied and now in addition to surviving his dreams, Vincent is forced to keep the two women in his life apart as he must make decisions about what matters the most to him.

Gameplay in Catherine is split into two parts. The real meat of the game are the nightmare sections where you guide Vincent up the seemingly endless tower and solve increasingly difficult block-based puzzles in order to advance as well as interacting with the fellow denizens of the nightmare world in the “safe spots” between sections. The other half of the game and the part that I enjoyed the most is a social simulation where you guide Vincent’s choices and actions during the time you spend drinking at the bar with your friends. Your choices here place Vincent’s morality on a continuum between law and order and these have impacts not only on how other people fare inside of the nightmares but on which of the several different endings of the game that you will ultimately receive. You also make choices regarding Vincent’s moral continuum after every stage inside the nightmare where you answer philosophical questions that help to further flesh out Vincent’s outlook on life.

Not since Heavy Rain, have I played a game that deals so spectacularly with such mature subject matter. As I played the game, the choices that I made shaped the narrative to be a sort of coming of age tale about a man who is stuck in emotional arrested development and who slowly matures and learns about what matters most and starts to grab ahold of his own life rather than let it pass by before him as a passive observer in his own destiny. Themes like love and infidelity are so universal and powerful that I’m always shocked when they don’t have a larger place in the video game medium. Despite initial reports that this was supposed to be a heavily erotic and sexualized game, even the sex in the game is mature in that it is placed in the perspective of infidelity and is never graphic in nature. Honestly, the game’s story is by far the biggest draw of the whole game and it’s exactly what I’ve come to expect from Atlus. It makes me literally salivate at the thought of the next numbered entry in the Persona series.

Besides the incredibly addictive nature of its dungeon-crawler meets monster trainer meets social simulator gameplay, one of the biggest draws of Atlus’ flagship Persona series has been its distinct anime-esque art style. Catherine is Atlus’s first foray in current-gen systems and their potential for this art style, and I can gladly report that it was a striking success. Not since the PS2 and Rogue Galaxy have I played a game that so thoroughly convinced me that I was actually playing an anime, and Catherine is leagues prettier than Rogue Galaxy ever was. This generation of consoles has really made me a firm believer that video game developers should go for expressive and stylistic artwork in their games rather than hyper-realistic graphics as games that are hyper-realistic for their time age horribly the second the next best thing comes out but art like Okami or Braid is timeless. Catherine gets to join those ranks.

It’s really such a shame that all of the things that I love about the game and that make it exceptional are weighed down so terribly by actual gameplay that is reminiscent of the worst aspects of old school video games. In theory, I love the block puzzle system and it forces me to think in ways that most games will never ask. However, later stages are plagued by a random nature that despite all of your best planning will often lead to your death or inability to solve the puzzle through no real fault of your own. It’s also entirely possible to reach a checkpoint in the game that will eventually make you realize that you have to restart the whole area as you worked yourself into an unsolvable hole before you touched the checkpoint marker. I love puzzle games and the sense of satisfaction I received from solving the “fair” puzzles in the game was immense. However, I got no pleasure from spending an hour on one section of a level only to finally succeed because the random gods were suddenly kind to me. This game is inaccessibly difficult even on the Easy difficult and it only becomes more horrendous in its nasty desire to kill the player as you push the difficulty level higher.

How can you tell if you should play Catherine? Have you ever found yourself in a heated argument about whether or not games can be “art”? If so, then this is one of those games that easily falls on the art side of the debate. Do you have a deep-rooted love for puzzle games? Once again, this is a great puzzle game when its fair. Do you have the patience to sit through many, many deaths or failures before you finally solve the puzzle? This is the most important question. I had the patience, although barely. There was a point (when I had literally broken the game at a checkpoint) where I was ready to quit but I persevered. Fortunately, I was able to fix the error and ultimately beat the game. I actually beat the level that had stumped me for hours on my first try when I reset the game which is hilarious in retrospect. Anyways, this was a good game that had the potential to be a classic. It’s just a shame that the difficulty was so through the roof that only those with puzzle skills and a lot of patience should put themselves through playing it.

Final Score: B+